Wednesday, December 02, 2009

30 Something, Expanded

As mentioned on Monday, I am adding dimension to December in a program I call 30 over 30. What can I do in 30 minutes over 30 days to make a difference in my life? Initially I conceived it as a way to combat the New Year Resolutions that are certain to begin popping up toward the end of the month. I don't know why they bother me so much: I think it's the added pressure of agreeing to something you know you may not achieve, or may not want to achieve. I believe it's possible to integrate a new behavior by consciously practicing it for 30 days, and I think there's a sense of fun and adventure in making a pact with yourself to improve whether it's gaining a new skill or knowledge, or eradicating that which is self-destructive.

I personally am committing to 30 minutes of cardio activity each day, drinking 30% more water each day, and going to bed 30 minutes earlier each day. At a surface level, these goals are pretty self-involved. Everything I'm doing seems to be focused exclusively on my health and well-being. The older I've gotten and the more people have come to depend on me, the more I realize this is actually a responsibility not only to myself, but also to others. Affecting change and attempting to contribute to make my community, and hopefully my world, better is important to me. As I continue to observe myself and others, I am disappointed by the deflective thoughts and subsequent non-actions to which we are all privy: "I don't have enough time," "Nothing I say matters," or "I really just don't care." It's a bubble of self-absorption that must be burst. It is the "Me" mentality that has contributed so greatly to the economic peril we have experienced the past 2 years, the deplorable state of our environment, and quite possibly the ultimate demise of our species and planet.

Is there a time and place to bask in the glow of friendship and benefit from complete mental and emotional decompression? Absolutely. Life is about balance. And maybe that's where I'm finding myself and seeing patterns in others - out of balance and tipping to the ineffective side. That can be changed. Step 1 is recognizing the need. Step 2 is figuring out how.

All too often we set goals which we cannot achieve. And it's an established fact that setting achievable goals - and achieving them - will strengthen our internal mechanism to continue improving and accomplishing. Categorically speaking, I think everyone in America probably has 30 minutes a day for 30 days to do something that will improve themselves and have a positive, sustainable impact on those around them. I challenged myself to write a list of 30 ideas and thought I'd share them here. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well.


  1. Review your priority list daily. Spend 30 minutes at the start of each day organizing your list of priorities and adapt behaviors that allow you to accomplish them.
  2. Breathe deeply 30 times each day (break into 10 breath sessions - 10 at 8 a.m., 10 at noon, and 10 at 5 p.m. if you want). Thanks Ethan!
  3. Do 30 push-ups per day, maintaining a perfect plank position (You can also spread these over the course of the day).
  4. Study a topic of personal interest for 30 minutes each day: It could be the Bible or other spiritual reference, world news and hot media stories, etc.
  5. Send one personal email (or post card) daily to a person who means something to you. Reference something endearing in 30 words or less. (e.g. "I saw a field of clover yesterday and thought of the time we found the 4-leaf when we were children. It made me smile and I wanted to share.")
  6. Write freestyle for 30 minutes.
  7. Read anything for 30 minutes.
  8. Acknowledge, authentically, one person at your office each day.
  9. Say something nice to yourself at least once each day.
  10. Make a $30 donation to a non-profit organization you believe in. Learn what $30 per month can do to assist others.
  11. Review your regular grocery lists and expenses and challenge yourself to reduce the weekly cost by 30%. Send 30% of that reduction to a world hunger organization. Do the same for your petroleum usage and send the savings to a conservation organization.
  12. Look at a world atlas and pinpoint/prioritize 30 countries you'd like to visit. It doesn't have to even be a country you really want to visit - just do 30 and list a reason why.
  13. Purge your hard drive by 30% over the course of a month. Retain critical data on memory sticks and external drives.
  14. Relax for 30 minutes. Do nothing. Just relax and enjoy your life.
  15. Watch a famous movie you've never seen from the 1930's.
  16. Increase the time you spend smiling and laughing by 30%. Recognize if you're grumpy or gloomy and realize you're the only person who can fix it - maybe you choose a fond memory each day, or you recollect your happiest memory each day.
  17. Say the name of the people you love out loud as you drive along.
  18. Assess and inventory your wardrobe. Could you reduce it by one garment each day? If so, could you donate the clothing to an organization in need?
  19. Volunteer with an organization for half an hour each day. Maybe you can run by and answer the telephone while a staff member takes a break or works on another project.
  20. Listen to 30 minutes of classical music each morning while you're getting ready for work, or prior to falling asleep at night.
  21. Try to understand someone else's perspective - active, objective listening - at least once each day.
  22. Figure out how many dozen cookies can be baked with 30 eggs. Bake that many dozen over the course of a month and run them by your church, your doctor's office, the post office, etc.
  23. Spend half an hour serving food at a soup kitchen. It will change your life forever.
  24. Look at the calendar year for 2010 and plan all but 30% of your time off. You'll make better choices about your travel, and enjoy your "freebies" when an unexpected opportunity presents itself.
  25. Measure the overall square footage of your home. Could you and your family exist in a living space 30% smaller? Of course you could. Figure out how, then reduce your excess in a repurposing campaign. Learn more about www.freecycle.org.
  26. Make a list of things to do/entertainment within 30 miles of your home. Keep it handy for times when you have company, or find yourself bored and in need of an option.
  27. Read a 30 under 30 list and look for common behavior threads that have made these people noteworthy.
  28. Treat someone you know who struggles or aches to a $30 pedicure.
  29. Learn to count to 30 in Spanish, French, German, and Japanese.
  30. Plot a timeline of the next 30 years, including everything you want to accomplish, then reduce it by 30%. Make this your "lifeshot" and get busy living it!

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